Many are the times I have watched a movie or television show and was happy that the hero was getting his revenge upon the bad guy. How many times I have had to check my thinking against Scripture and have had to confess to God that I was thinking like the world instead of like Christ. Movies can make me forget that the most important thing is to tell the gospel to all. Revenge is for God, not for us. In fact, Scripture has a much different take on enemies than the world. (All emphasis is added.) It is sad to see some GCMers not even treating their husbands like Christians are to treat their enemies!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 ESV)
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,
for you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.
(Proverbs 25:21-22 ESV)
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36 ESV)
at Jesus’ Crucifixion:
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23:34 ESV)
at Stephen’s Stoning:
And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
(Acts 7:60 ESV)
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.(Romans 12:14-16 ESV)
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21 ESV)
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:15 ESV)
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
lest the LORD see it and be displeased,
and turn away his anger from him.
(Proverbs 24:17-18 ESV)
Here is another hard lesson from God’s Word. How many times are we supposed to forgive? Jesus says seven times seventy…in other words, always forgive (Matthew 18:21-35). Jesus then goes on to tell what the kingdom of heaven is like. A man owes a lot of money to the king and the king forgives the debt against him. The forgiven man goes out and does not have forgiveness or mercy for the man who owes him a little bit of money. Wow! Jesus forgives us so much. Who are we not to forgive another sinner? And what was the fate of the first man who owed much? He was thrown into jail and was made to pay the full debt he owed. “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35 ESV)
Hard teachings are they not?
“To return evil for evil is demonic. To return good for good is human. But to return good for evil is divine!” – unknown
photo credit: flickr via photopin cc